Give them an apartment first, ask questions later
by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The United States State of Utah, the Mormon State, has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015.
And how did they do it? The answer is a simple one really. The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached.
In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they should fail they still get to keep their apartment.
Other states are eager to emulate Utah’s results and no surprise there, I would think.
Wyoming has seen its homeless population more than double in the past three years, and it only provides shelter for 26 percent of them, the lowest rate in the country. City officials in Casper, Wyoming, now plan to launch a pilot program using the methods of Utah’s Housing First program. There’s no telling how far the idea might go.
In Britain we are being told – time and again – that we have a lack of homes to put house the homeless but the truth is that we do not have a lack of homes; we have an empty homes crisis, to be correct. That is to say that there are many empty, even council homes, about but many of those have been earmarked for destruction – why, you ask – to make way for new developments (nice little earner). But at the same time squatting in empty properties has been made a crime and so has homelessness, now, basically.
The UK has enough empty homes to house all the homeless in this country and Ireland together and if we would but consider all other empty properties that could be, by the people themselves, such as squatters have been doing all the time where they could, doing the places up we would not have to have any homelessness in Britain or elsewhere in our so-called civilized countries.